My cell phone rang yesterday. I answered it the way I always do for a number I don’t recognize: “Hello, this is Nancy.”
“Nancy, are you in the Tea Party?” a belligerent male voice demanded.
“Who is calling, please?” I replied.
“It’s a simple question: Are you in the Tea Party,” he repeated, just as belligerent.
I hung up. The phone number was from Wilmington, Del., and the reverse lookup was for someone named Jackson. My cell number isn’t widely known, but it’s out there. Is craziness in the air these days? It must be. Why should only the U.S. Congress be affected?
It turned out the same guy called my colleague in Lansing, who started laughing. Might have been the better response.
I recall a guy who rang the city desk in Columbus one night and started raving about the IRA and the British monarchy. We were just leaving for dinner, and the editor who answered put the receiver down on the desk. We left and when we returned an hour later, the guy was still raving. I hung up the phone on the words “right down the queen’s chimney,” followed by a cackle.
It was a craptastic day all around. As I hinted yesterday, our health insurance in the new year is skyrocketing. Which means we’ll be moving to my employer’s plan, but that can’t happen until mid-year 2014. Which means it was one of those days I spent figuring expenses we can cut, while simultaneously trying to gather data for a story, but guess what? Any data website run by the federal government is down.
Here’s something you shouldn’t do on a bad day: Read the comments on a story. Take this one, for example. It’s a column by a grad student at Johns Hopkins, explaining all the ways the shutdown is affecting her life. I read it with a sinking heart, knowing the comments on the story would be horrible, as the accepted narrative seems to be that nothing all that bad is happening, and anyone who goes to grad school to study “environmental change and demographic transition theory” must be a twee egghead and all the rest of it.
To be sure, they weren’t that bad, but they were depressing. Don’t read the comments. EVER.
Many members of an audience of mostly Ole Miss students, including an estimated 20 Ole Miss football players, openly disrespected and disrupted the Ole Miss theater department’s production of “The Laramie Project” Tuesday night at the Meek Auditorium.
Cast members of the play, which is about an openly gay male who was murdered in Laramie County in Wyoming, said members of the audience became so disruptive at times that they struggled completing the play.
It’s just too much of a bummer.
Let’s move on to black comedy. It wasn’t a great day for Indiana congressmen in general. Besides the much-discussed story about Marlin Stutzman, there was this:
Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), a member of the House Committee on the Budget, was invited to discuss the government shutdown on this morning’s CNN Newsroom, but the congressman seemed far more interested in hitting on the host instead.
After Carol Costello called Rokita out over the “divisive approach” taken by Republicans to arrive at a resolution that benefits them alone, the lawmaker retorted by “mansplaining” the situation to the anchor.
“I don’t know if you have children yet, I’m sure you don’t have grandchildren yet, you look much too young, but we’re fighting for them,” Rokita told Costello. “Carol, do you have any idea how much this law is going to cost?”
There were later comments about Carol’s loveliness. I wonder what Mrs. Rokita thinks of that.
And now let’s change it up a bit.
Oprah Winfrey is cutting her ties to Chicago. Neil Steinberg bids her farewell:
As much as you liked to float your Chicago street cred when basking in the endless celebrity limelight that trailed you like your own personal sun, it wasn’t as if you were ever really here beyond the confines of your 15,000-square-foot Water Tower Place duplex. Not a lot of Oprah sightings in all those years you did that hall-of-mirrors show of yours. No river of Oprah bucks watering thirsty Chicago charities. More like a trickle.
…Or, in your defense, the public’s gullibility was already there, and you just reflected it. You had your moments. Sure, too many were spent in squealing worship of brand materialism as its basest. But sometimes you rose above: One show, you sent a family from St. Louis to live in Mongolia in yurts. It was interesting.
(I should probably say, in the spirit of full disclosure, that I was a guest on Oprah’s show once, nearly 20 years ago, promoting my second book. A four-hour ordeal I remember as a blur of endless waiting punctuated by frantic assistant producers with clipboards lunging past, of fellow guests blinking in wonder at indoor plumbing, of cheap vending machine muffins sweating oil in their plastic wrap, piled in the Green Room by minions of the richest woman after Queen Elizabeth II. Of how flinty, disinterested and queenly in a bad way you were in person. It is not a happy memory).
OID: A shots-fired police raid across from an elementary school. Leads to a change in policy. OK.
And I think that’s it for now. Have a good weekend, all. I think I’ll be firing our cleaning lady. With regret.